New Orange County School Board meeting protocols put to the test as outbursts continue over masks

At Tuesday’s Orange County School Board meeting, eight people were escorted out for disruptions. With new protocols in place, things were more strict than they have been in a long time. 

"Escort him out, please."

"You’re out of order. You’re out of order." 

The meeting was quiet and tame for hours until a classified employee who was being terminated for not wearing a mask in school spoke. The meeting got heated, a recess was called and people were removed.

"But to come here and to sit for this long and to stay quiet and to observe these rules, I just want to say thank you. I really do," OCPS School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs said at the meeting. "They were escorted out peacefully, so I think given what we’re seeing all around the state and around the nation, I think it went well," she told FOX 35.

This comes after the school board put new protocols in place to better manage the meetings with organized lines outside, about a dozen law enforcement officers inside, metal detectors required and no signs allowed.

Parents were split on the changes. 

"It was a lot more organized and I felt a lot safer, so thank you for that," said one parent at the meeting.

"I’m just kind of disappointed with the whole thing because they just make up rules as they go. It’s just not fair for any of us," said parent David Ronco. 

Another new measure went into effect Tuesday. OCPS posted on Facebook that it is disabling Facebook comments on its page, saying the level to which the contentious dialogue has devolved during the pandemic is problematic.

Parents on both sides of the mask issue are upset.

"I think it’s wrong because you know what, they need to hear what we say and if they don’t have time here, what a better place to do it than online," Ronco said.

"With the comments turned off completely, it creates a false equivalency. I understand why you’re doing it, I do. But, it’s really apples to onions."

The decision was made by the district. The school board was not made aware of it until after the post was made. Board Chair Teresa Jacobs stands by it. 

"The platform is not intended to be a platform where people can basically wage verbal wars against each other. They can send us emails. They have an opportunity to speak. We’re not required to create all sorts of opportunities."

The post continues to say OCPS does not take the action lightly and that it is committed to interacting with members of the school community but Facebook is not a place for arguments, bullying or hostility toward other commenters.